Abrasive: A material used to help create a sound base for one coat of paint to adhere to another. Material such as “no-fill” abrasive paper, painters sand paper, wet & dry paper.

Acrylic: A tough yet flexible material used in the manufacturing of premium grade water-based paints. Water based paints are often referred to as “acrylic”. In America the acrylic paints are referred to as latex, in England the acrylic paints are referred to as emulsion paints.

Adhesion: The ability of dry paint to remain on the surface without blistering, flaking or cracking. Adhesion is probably the single most important property of paint.

Air Dry: To dry at ordinary temperatures, in Australia the most common domestic paints are all air dry.

Alligatoring or Crocodiling: A form of paint failure in which the surface of the coating looks like the skin of an alligator. Usually associated with old deteriorated oil base paint or where the first coat of paint was not properly dry before the second coat was applied.

Barge Boards: A board covering the rafter ends on the gable end of a house.

Battens: Strips covering the adjoining ends of fibrous cement sheets or can be used on Masonite sheets. Usually made of timber.

Binder: The non-volatile portion of paint which tends to join or cement pigment particles together, helping to produce a continuous film.

Bleeding: The discolouration caused by certain materials or dyes which are soluble in the solvents and continue to appear through subsequent coats of paint. The most common stains are water stains, on ceilings and walls. Proper sealing of the surface will solve the problem.

Blistering: Small pockets of air, water or resin which appear beneath or between a paint film. They are caused mostly through damp or ill-ventilated conditions. Usually caused by moisture, resin or water turning gaseous due to increases of the surface temperature of the paint.

Blooming: A whitish or fogging like appearance on a clear varnish or a gloss film.
Usually caused by high humidity or continuing to paint under cold, damp or ill-ventilated areas.

Boxing: The process of intermixing of paints by pouring from one container into another. A process often recommended to ensure there is no colour variations between the 2 cans of paint or varnish.

Chalking: The normal way paint ages, to ensure the surface of the old paint is in a proper condition to be repainted. All paint that has any chalking of the surface must have that chalking material totally removed from the surface before any fresh paint is commenced.

Checking or Crazing: Shallow cracks that develop in the surface of the paint, enamel or varnish. Cracking of this nature is not as severe as continuous Alligatoring or Crocodiling.

Colour retention: The ability of paint to keep its original colour and to resist fading.

Consistency: The thickness condition of the paint, or how thick the paint is.

Covering or coverage: The spread rate or spreading ability of a coat of paint over a specific area (not to be confused with hiding power or opacity.).

Cracking: Breaks or splits in the paint surface.

Cratering: A paint film defect where craters appear in the surface of the dry film. This is usually an application technique issue where a roller is overloaded trapping too much air in the paint, or during the application process the roller is pushed too hard onto the surface creating the same effect.

Dryers: Dryers are a catalytic material used for speeding up the drying process of oil-based paints; only oil-based type paints need dryers to help them dry. The most common problem in using dryers is that most applicators put too much dryer into the paint believing it will make the paint dry even faster, actually the opposite will occur.

Dull finish: An almost dead flat finish.

Dust free: A paint film is dust free when the dust will not adhere to the surface after the coating has dried.

Eaves: The underside of the roof overhang.

Efflorescence: A deposit of water soluble salts on the surface of masonry or plaster caused by the dissolving of salts which is present in the masonry. The migration of the solution to the surface and then deposits the salts on the surface after the water evaporates.

Eggshell: Alustre closely resembling that of the sheen of an eggshell, almost devoid of gloss but not quite flat in appearance.

Fascia: The board covering the ends of rafters and also the board used to carry guttering or spouting around the house. It is located at the edge of the roof line.

Fat edge: An accumulation of paint on any sharp angle, or on joining up on a flat surface: a product of bad workmanship.

Filler: The composition used to fill the open wood grain before applying paint or varnish. Also, a material used to fill holes, cracks, indentations and other blemishes on all manner of surfaces.

Film formation: The paint ability to form a continuous dry film. This process as a result of water or solvents evaporating and the coming together of the blinded particles.

Flaking: A form of paint failure in which the paint film cracks into irregular shapes or pieces and becomes detached from the surface. Often found in bathroom ceilings were the wrong paint system was recommended or the correct system not used.

Flat: Paint with no gloss at all, that is, there is no reflection of light even when you look at it at right angles along the wall. Flat finishes are more frequently used on ceilings to hide any issues with plastering. Not recommended for use in wet areas such as bathrooms or ensuites.


Foaming: When applying paint with a roller, a foaming effect may occur if there is too much air in the film. Most of these bubbles will break on their own.

Gloss: The degree of reflection the paint film has. Full gloss reflects the most amount of light, flat reflects the least amount of light.

Grinning through: The original coating on the wall showing through the next coat of paint.

Grain raise: The swelling and standing up of woodgrain caused by absorption of water or solvents.

Hairline cracks: Very narrow cracks in the paint, varnish or plaster. Requires filling with a very fine filler.

Hiding power: The capacity of a paint to completely obscure the surface or colour over which the coating is being applied.

Key: A fine texture in a surface produced by abrasive or chemical action to provide proper adhesion for the following coats of paint.

Kalsomine: Paint consisting of calcium carbonate include and casine glue, very popular in the early 1920’s through to the mid 1950’s. When the product deteriorated it became very powdery forming a loose powdered surface which must be removed prior to any additional coats of paint being applied to the surface.

Leafing: The overlapping arrangement of aluminium or gold bronze powders in a paint film, like that of falling leaves. Good leafing is important in producing a metallic appearance and is caused by using treated or coated pigments along with a suitable bronzing liquid.

Levelling: The formation of a smooth film on either horizontal or vertical surfaces regardless of the method of application. A film which has good levelling properties is usually free of brush marks, roller marks or orange peel defects.

Lintel: A horizontal steel bar spanning an opening, usually over windows or doors, to support the overhead wall, can also sometimes be made from brickwork or formed concrete.

Matt: A surface or colour without lustre, dull, but not flat.

Medium: The substance, generally a liquid, in which pigment is suspended and applied to the surface.

Mildewcide: A chemical agent used in quality paint to retard the growth of mildew, a common problem in humid areas such as bathrooms, laundries and ensuites.

Nibs: Specs of dirt, dust or other foreign matters that can sometimes appear on the surface of the painted finish.

Oxidisation: The process of chemical reactions with absorbed oxygen. Oxidisation takes place for instance when linseed oil absorbs oxygen and changes to a tough film.

Patent knotting: Made with shellac dissolved in methylated spirits or naphtha.
Used to seal back resinous knots in timber so that they will not show through to the following coats. This term is often abbreviated to knotting.

Peeling: Detachment of the paint film from the substrate or another coat of paint. Usually caused by the application of the wrong paint to the wrong surface or lack of proper surface preparation.

Pigment: The solid component of paint which imparts colour or opacity. In a paint film it is the part that you see when the paint has dried. There are no pigments in clear finishes.
Pin holding: The defective application of paint, enamel or varnish, in which minute holes are left in the film usually due to bubbles which persist until film has completely dried.

Primary colour: One of the three pure colours, red, yellow, and blue, from which all colours are derived.

Ropy: A ropy appearance on any paint surface is one that shows brush marks.

Saponification: This is a process that forms a soap-like appearance on a coat of paint. This usually occurs when a low sheen or flat finish is used in a wet area where the paint has not had time to properly cure. To remove this from the surface simply wash with clean water and allow the coating to dry and then to cure properly for at least the 4-day period. This occurs principally in wet areas and usually because of steaming up a room before the paint has cured.

Sagging: Sometimes referred to as “curtaining” due to too heavy a coat or over thinning. The paint runs down or sags with the curtain-like effect as it dries.

Secondary colour: A colour obtained by intermixing two primary colours for example mixing yellow and blue to make green.

Shade: A clean colour change by the addition of black, also known as muddy or off cast colours.

Skin: A tough layer of skin formed on the surface of the paint or varnish in the can, this is usually caused by exposure to air trapped in the can.

Sissing: An effect where the paint or varnish is showing craters or dimples when applied. Usually caused through a greasy surface or a surface that has not been properly prepared.

Stippling: The method of producing a decorative effect of paint by an ad hoc dabbing action either with a stippling brush or pad of soft cloth.

Stopping: Filling holes or blemishes in the surface with an appropriate filler.

Tack free: The process of the paint drying until the surface is not sticky to touch.

Tack cloth: A slightly sticky cloth used for the removal of dust from a painted surface after it was sanded. Ideal in providing a dust free surface for a mirror finish using a paint or clear varnish finish.

Tertiary colour: These colours are obtained by intermixing a primary colour with a secondary colour for example yellow and green to produce a lime colour.

Tough: Flexible and at the same time hard enough to withstand where in the form of knocking, scraping, abrasive cleaning.

Tint: A colour thinned or diluted with white, tints are made by blending full-strength colours with white paint.

Viscosity: The thickness or degree of fluidity of a paint, the viscosity of liquid is measured by its flow rate.

Volatile: Volatile liquid is a liquid that evaporates and usually refers to a product that is thinned with mineral turps or some other form of solvent, normally volatile products are flammable.

Vinyl: Basically, refers to paint made from a polyvinyl acetate binder or PVA, and is used in the production of some water-based paints. Not quite as durable or hard wearing as a pure acrylic paint. Often blended with a pure acrylic to make a medium quality paint.

Washability: the ease with which washing will remove dirt or grime from the painted surface without causing damage, interior acrylic paints are not washable until fully cured.

Wet edge: The edge of a wet painted area which remains workable.



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